QB's agent rejects proposal to cut salary to $1M

Chad Pennington won't take a pay cut -- and it could cost him his job.

According to a report on Newsday's Web site Saturday morning, the New York Jets quarterback's agent, Tom Condon, rejected the team's proposal to cut Pennington's salary for the 2006 season. As first reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen on Sunday, the Jets asked Pennington to take a pay cut to a $1 million base salary with incentives that would compensate for the remaining $8 million the team owes him.

A source close to the situation told Newsday that if the team and quarterback can't resolve the issue, Pennington could be released.

Pennington signed a $64 million, seven-year deal two years ago. He is expected to have a salary cap number close to $12 million this season, including a $3 million roster bonus due in March. Even if the Jets cut him, they would take a salary hit of about $10 million because of the prorated salary cap.

According to Newsday, the Jets, who will be more than $20 million over the cap this season, don't want to pay the $3 million bonus and are concerned about Pennington's right shoulder injury and whether his arm will return to full strength.

Pennington hurt his shoulder during the 2004 season, missed three games and then returned for the end of the regular season and the playoffs. It was clear then that his arm strength was significantly reduced and after the season the team said he would
have rotator cuff surgery.

He returned in 2005 but was injured in the third game of the season and again had surgery, missing the rest of the season. The team's problems were compounded when Jay Fiedler, acquired as insurance in the offseason, was injured seven plays after Pennington and was also lost for the season.

That left the Jets with third-stringer Brooks Bollinger and 42-year-old Vinny Testaverde, and the team finished 4-12. After the season, coach Herman Edwards left for Kansas City and Mike Tannenbaum replaced general manager Terry Bradway.

Complicating the issue is the lack of an extension to the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players' union. The contract expires in 2008, but 2007 would be an uncapped season, leaving questions about the length and size of deals with free agents.

Citing sources close to the situation, Newsday reported that the Jets are trying to get running back Curtis Martin, guard Pete Kendall, tackle Jason Fabini, receiver Laveranues Coles and center Kevin Mawae either to accept pay cuts or to renegotiate their contracts. The team has already decided to part ways with cornerback Ty Law, who is due an $11 million bonus.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.